Provencal Potato Salad

Have you seen those mesh bags of tiny potatoes at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods? The bag includes a medley of small yellow, red, and purple potatoes, barely bigger than quail eggs. I buy them just because they are pretty, and their taste is lovely. This potato salad, typical of Provence, is like the potato portion of a Nicoise salad. You can make it with any smallish new potato, though the tiny ones like these or fingerlings are ideal. A Dijon vinaigrette is tossed with the cut potatoes when they are still warm, to help the dressing get absorbed. Capers, garlic, and parsley are tossed in as well. The salad is best if allowed to sit for several hours, as is just as good two days out as one. So it’s perfect for a make ahead get together.

The secret ingredient of the dressing is the anchovy paste. If you are familiar with the bliss that anchovies can bring to a salad dressing, you’ll know why it’s included. If you are unfamiliar with using anchovies or anchovy paste in salad dressings, I strongly urge you to try it! Believe me, it won’t make your dressing taste like fish. It will just make your mouth smile when you taste it.

Provencal Potato Salad Recipe

  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

You can save time by prepping the ingredients and making the vinaigrette while the potatoes are cooking. The vinaigrette should be mixed with the potatoes while they are still warm, so the potatoes better absorb the dressing.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs small waxy potatoes or fingerling potatoes (ideally those tiny potatoes that are no more than an inch or so long)
  • Salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup green olives, sliced

Dressing ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de provence
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (1 to 2 anchovies, mashed)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Method

1 Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the potatoes until they are just tender when speared with a fork or sharp knife, 10 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Do not overcook. They should be a little firm.

2 While the potatoes are cooking, prep the other ingredients and make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, pepper, herbes de provence, anchovy paste, and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil whisking the whole time to create an emulsion.

3 When the potatoes are ready, strain them from the pot. Let them cool just enough so you can handle them without burning your hands. Cut them into 3/4-inch to 1-inch pieces. If you have very small potatoes (pictured), cut them in half.

4 In a large bowl toss the still warm potatoes with the vinaigrette, garlic, parsley, capers and green olives. Chill for a couple of hours. Let come to room temperature to serve.

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20 Comments

  1. frank

    Yummy recipe Elise. The great thing with anchovies [and other umami-rich food] is that they accentuate the flavor of the other ingredients w/o tasting “fishy”.

    Much like mushrooms, tomato paste, grilled meats and shellfish, anchovies are loaded with that umami taste/sensation.

    I chuckle when folks say they don’t like anchovies yet eat Caesar’s salad. :)

  2. mary

    I love anchovies but my family does not .- Does the paste add a strong flavor? May I omit it or leave it in and hope it just enhances the dish?

    Hi Mary, the paste doesn’t add a strong flavor, it only greatly enhances the flavor of the vinaigrette. You can skip it if you want, but I highly recommend trying it. ~Elise

  3. Rossella

    I think this recipe is GREAT and I’ll try it tonight :)
    Just for the record though, I strongly recommend to not let it sit for longer than 24 hours (or eat it later than that).
    Boiled potatoes are naturally quiet high in bacteria and after 24 hours these bacteria proliferate even more as the fermentation begins (just like with home made broth).I know you will store them in the fridge but even if they are not exactly noxious, they may not be suitable for sensitive intestines or smaller children.
    Plus it’s the nitrites level you don’t want to let raise in your food ;)

    The potato salad should be stored in the refrigerator. ~Elise

  4. daveg

    This does sound excellent, and a nice sneaky way to slip some anchovy appreciation under the radar of my family’s food sensibilities.

    Herbes de provence is an unfamiliar blend to me. I do not keep it among my spices, only the more common things like thyme, oregano, basil, sage, dill, etc. Could you suggest any substitutes, or are there elements you feel are essential there?

    p.s. you have a typo in the instructions of “hermes” for “hermes”

    Thanks for the typo catch, it’s been corrected! Herbes de Provence is sort of like Italian seasoning, but with a French twist. Typical mixtures include thyme, rosemary, summer savory, and dried lavender flowers. ~Elise

  5. Colleen Walsh Fong

    I love to use small and multi-colored potatoes. They add color to the plate and each different color has a different flavor. These potatoes look absolutely delicious. I must pin immediately.

  6. Lori @ In My Kitchen, In My Life

    I’m laughing about the anchovies. My mantra when using ingredients like this is: “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”

    The problem arises when someone asks me for recipe for a dish they enjoyed — then the cat is out of the bag!

  7. Michelle

    Hello. I love reading your recipes. They all sound yummy. My problem is that you frequently use ingredients that I have difficulty figuring out how to store. I do not cook every day and this looks like an awesome recipe! However, what do I do with the other 8 anchovies? Thanks!

    I tend to use anchovy paste, which comes in a small tube and lasts a really long time. You can easily add a dab to any salad dressing to make it taste better. ~Elise

  8. Celeste Quinn

    This is a keeper. Made it tonight. Reminds me of a dish a family member made year’s ago. No capers but she included beautiful tender French green beans.

    These spuds are also good with just snips of fresh herbs, salt and pepper and olive oil. Put aside some, or all, take out of the frig the next day and sauté in a hot skillet.

  9. Rocky Mountain Woman

    I am going to a barbecue this weekend. This is more than likely going with me!

    lovely…

  10. Barbara

    Yes, everyone DO try the anchovy paste! I’d never be caught dead eating anchovies on pizza, but use the paste in cooking all the time. It melts into everything else and you (nor anyone!) would know it’s there. But as Elise says, it adds/does something wonderful!!

  11. Marie M.C.

    Did anyone else see the comment about washing potatoes in their dishwasher? Huh? Is this a joke? or serious? Potatoes today are pretty clean when I get them home. The small ones seem like they hardly need a rinse before plopping in the pot. They are boiled so . . . ? Folks listen to Elise — anchovy paste is GOOD! Plus it comes in a tube — just like toothpaste — so you won’t waste it.

    I saw that dishwasher comment. I have heard of cooking things in the dishwasher, don’t know about washing potatoes in it though! ~Elise

  12. Aninas Recipes

    What a great recipe. All of these ingredients compliment each other so well. Thanks!

  13. Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    Thank you for a potato salad without mayo. This is my perfect potato salad!

  14. Eileen

    This salad is awesome! I just made it for lunch and wanted to share that I LOVE it. It is a wonderful, easy and quick recipe for the small new potatoes that I am now getting from my CSA. Thanks!

  15. Heidi

    This potato salad was a big hit with the family for last night’s dinner. It’s definitely a keeper! Loved the French twist on an old standard. Thanks, Elise for such a great blog.

    You’re welcome! So glad you liked it. ~Elise

  16. DK

    Have these mini potatoes that I have been wanting to use up…Will try this one. Being a vegetarian, I can’t use anchovies..will skipping them make a huge difference or would I have to sub it with something else?

    If you skip the anchovies, I would add some finely minced sun-dried tomatoes. ~Elise

  17. JulieD

    I love, love this recipe, Elise! I must make this soon for my mayo hating husband! Hope you and Guy are doing well! :D

    We are Julie, thank you! ~Elise

  18. DK

    Thanks Elise for the reply. Sun dried tomatoes sounds excellent.Yum!

  19. Jennifer M

    Best potato salad ever! Perfect for a potluck or a cool summer dinner. Leave out the anchovies and it’s completely vegan.

    Thanks much!

  20. fabiola

    Elise, I just love this recipe, and photos. It looks so light, and simple for summer. I am going to delve into the anchovy paste, and see where it takes me. I have yet to stock that ingredient in my cupboards. I know I will love it, so thank you in advance for bringing it into this recipe, because it looks amazing!

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